labels: Pharmaceuticals, Merck & Co
Merck agrees to settle Vioxx claims for $4.85 billionnews
15 November 2007

Mumbai: Merck & Co has agreed to pay $4.85 billion in damages to thousands of stroke victims who claimed that its painkiller drug Vioxx caused heart attacks and strokes in several of them, the company said.

The agreement was signed with the plaintiffs'''' lawyers heading the US federal and state cases against Merck but it has to be signed by at least by 38,000 of the 60,000 Vioxx plaintiffs to become viable, the company said.

The company said the agreement was signed with lawyers representing many of the 47,000 plaintiffs with claims, after extensive negotiations. The settlement could lead to payments for tens of thousands of Vioxx users who can prove they suffered a heart attack or stroke - and who have filed a claim by 8 November 2007.

Vioxx was pulled off the market three years ago but the legal battle dragged on for years and has already dogged the drugmaker.

Merck officials said they believe the settlement would be attractive to many. However, the company said the total pie is fixed at $4.85 billion regardless of the number of claims.

Merck said it would still defend all claims not included in the settlement. It had maintained that it would fight Vioxx litigation on a case-by-base basis rather than consider a broad settlement.

Vioxx had annual sales of $2.5 billion, in September 2004 ahead of the study that showed it doubled the risk of heart attack and stroke in patients taking it for at least 18 months.

Analysts expect Merck can put the cases to rest for anything close to $4.85 billion. Merck has also won most of the Vioxx cases that have gone to trial and gained leverage in negotiating the settlement, which many have called favourable for the New Jersey-based drugmaker.


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Merck agrees to settle Vioxx claims for $4.85 billion